Quick Start to Office Timeline Free

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Overview 

Welcome to Office Timeline Free – we're glad you're here! Office Timeline Add-in Free is a lightweight PowerPoint add-in that lets you quickly make and manage beautiful timelines, Gantt charts and Swimlane slides with up to 10 milestones and tasks. The following guide provides instructions and tips to get you started quickly.

A) Start a new timeline or Swimlane
B) Add or edit your data
C) Easily rearrange or update anything by Drag & Drop 
D) Customize your visual
E) Standardize timelines with themes

Read the full guide to learn how to make the most out of the free add-in or use the links above to skip to the section you're interested in. But before getting started, let’s have a quick look at some key timeline objects that we’ll be mentioning here to get accustomed to their names:

 

A) Start a new timeline or Swimlane

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With the Free Add-in, there are 2 ways to start a new timeline or Swimlane:

  1. Make it from scratch: From the Office Timeline ribbon in PowerPoint, click New and choose Timeline from scratch.

  2. Use one of the stylish Office Timeline themes available: Again from New, select one of the pre-designed themes to create a timeline with the same styling as the chosen theme. 

Note: If you choose to purchase the Pro or Pro+ edition of the add-in, you will also get the option to import data from other sources such as Excel, Microsoft Project, Jira, Smartsheet or Wrike and instantly turn it into a timeline.

In our example, we will start a new Timeline from scratch, so you can see how easy it is to make a professional-looking visual from head to toe.

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B) Add or edit your data

Once you click on the Timeline from Scratch (+) thumbnail in the New wizard, you will automatically be directed to the Data tab, which allows you to add or edit milestones (M) or tasks (T), as well as to create Swimlanes.

Note: Once you've created your slide, you can also access the Data view by clicking the Edit Data button on the ribbon.

  1. For each item you wish to add to your visual, type in its Title, choose whether it will be a Task or Milestone (T/M) and how it will look like, and enter its Start date and End date (milestones will have the exact same Start and End dates). You can also add % Complete to your tasks here for easy project tracking. 
    data-view-add-tasks-milestones-choose-shapes-colors.png
    Note: The Data wizard is a very a good place to start playing with colors and shapes too, because all updates you make here are instantly displayed in a real-time thumbnail view of your timeline.

  2. If you wish to create swimlanes, click on Add Swimlane and enter a name for your new lane. We'd recommend keeping these names short to ensure an ideal fit on the visual.add-swimlanes-data-view.png

  3. You can also add sub-swimlanes to show multiple projects or phases inside a Swimlane. Simply click the + Sub-swimlane button next to a Swimlane and choose a name for the new sub-lane.add-sub-swimlane.png

  4. To add tasks and milestones inside a swimlane or sub-swimlane, just click right below the lane's name and type in your data, or you can drag some of your existing items right into it. You can even move items from one swimlane or sub-swimlane to another using drag & drop, or rearrange them however you see fit.
    drag-and-drop-task-into-swimlane.png

    As you add, edit and move data, you can see a live preview of your timeline on the right. You'll notice there that general items that don't belong to any swimlane will be shown linked directly to the timescale.

 

Quick Tips:

  • The Free add-in also lets you create timelines and Swimlane diagrams scaled down to hours or minutes. Just add the Hours and minutes column to your table to enter Start and End times for your tasks and milestones.
    make-swimlanes-in-hours-and-minutes.png

  • Office Timeline Free also lets you add a Predecessors column to your data table so you can show dependencies on your timeline.
    add-predecessors-column-office-timeline-free.png
  • On standard timelines and Gantt charts (that do not contain any swimlanes), you can quickly reorder your tasks and milestones their Start Date, End Date or any other criteria by clicking on the desired column header in your data list.

  • In Free Edition, you can add as many swimlanes or sub-swimlanes as you want on a timeline, as long as you keep to a maximum of 10 milestones and/or tasks on you visual.

 

C) Easily rearrange or update by Drag & Drop on the visual

After you've finished adding your milestones and tasks in the Edit Data tab, it's time to move to the Timeline view. To access it, simply click on the Timeline tab from your data list. (Note: Once you've created your slide, you can also access the Timeline view by clicking the Edit Timeline button on the ribbon).

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The Timeline view is one of our favorite places inside the add-in – it provides a visual Drag & Drop editor that lets you rearrange, edit and update your graphic almost instantly!

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Here are just a few things you can do in this visual Drag & Drop editor:

  1. Drag milestones and tasks from the timescale to a swimlane or sub-swimlane

  2. Easily reorder your tasks and milestones.

  3. Drag milestones and tasks horizontally to instantly update their dates.

  4. Drag task bars by their corners to change their duration.

  5. Rearrange whole Swimlanes or even split them above and below the timescale.

  6. Reorder sub-swimlanes or move them to a new “parent” lane.

  7. Rotate and resize swimlane headers for a better fit.

  8. Drag milestones and tasks from one lane to another or move them outside the lanes, linked to the timescale.

  9. Group milestones and tasks on one row or even place milestones on tasks.

  10. Change the position of any text or date.

  11. Resize text boxes and task bars for a better fit.

  12. Quickly reposition the timeline on the slide.

  13. Add, duplicate, hide or delete items using the simple controls at the top of the Timeline view.

  14. Double-click to edit any text or date right on the visual.

Once you're happy with the layout or the updates you've made, don't forget to save your changes.

 

Advanced tip:

The Timeline view also lets you quickly create dependency links between your tasks and milestones. Just make sure to enable dependencies first if you haven't already, and then simply drag & drop to link items.

add-dependencies-timeline-view.gif

 

D) Quickly customize your timeline

After you've created your timeline or Swimlane slide, you can customize every detail on it using the Office Timeline Style Pane on the right side of the screen. Simply select the desired object on the visual to open its styling options in the pane.

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The Style Pane lets you customize your timeline and Swimlane elements in multiple ways - from shapes, sizes, colors, and positions to texts, date formats, or the timeline scale (from days to weeks, months etc.). You can even add extras such as task duration, elapsed time, connectors or percent complete, or hide dates and other details. Every item on the timeline can be customized from the Style Pane, so you can get your visual exactly how you want it.

 

E) Standardize timelines with themes

Office Timeline comes with a collection of beautiful themes that you can apply to your visuals to change their look effortlessly and ensure a uniform style in your project communications. Simply pick any theme you like from the Themes window, click Apply, and the add-in will instantly transform your timeline.

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Expert tip: With Expert Edition, you can even create your own custom brand themes and share them with your colleagues at the click of a button. This will help the whole team make compelling timelines effortlessly while maintaining brand consistency.

The steps and tips above should get you started quickly. If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to help.

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